A few weeks back, San Francisco 49ers 2016 first round pick DeForest Buckner met with the Bay Area media and did his usual talk about the next game, the last game, and his play. One of the most notable nuggets to take out of the presser was his goals for the 2016 season. Specifically, his sack and tackle totals. Buckner said he wanted to finish his season at six sacks and 70 tackles.
Here’s his numbers going into week 17: six sacks, 71 tackles. Keep in mind, he was inactive for one game as well. For comparisons sake, Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt finished his rookie season with 5.5 sacks and 56 tackles—and he played 16 games.
While the chances of Buckner hitting double digits is slim for sack totals (Aldon Smith and Ndomakong Suh got 14 and 10 sacks in their rookie campaigns respectively), those numbers are plenty solid for his first season. Especially when some analysts said he’d need significant development at the NFL level. Not to mention the loss of Arik Armstead probably hurt the efficiency of the 49ers’ defensive line as a whole.
Buckner had some question marks coming in for his size and pad level, but if this is any indication, he may have a bright future in the NFL as a starter. Hopefully, he’s only going to continue getting better.
Let’s see if he can continue to exceed his own expectations this weekend against the Seattle Seahawks and that lackluster offensive line.